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Interview with Saddam's Daughters to Air Momentarily

Aired August 1, 2003 - 14:14   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now a story we've been talking about all day and that's the interview that's taking place right now with our Jane Arraf and the two daughters of Saddam Hussein. They left Baghdad, they fled to Jordan, Amman, Jordan. And they talked to Al Arabiya Network not long ago.
We want to give you a piece of that but want to remind you too, that we will have a full interview with the daughters with our Jane Arraf within minutes. But first, here's what the daughters told the Al Arabiya reporter about leaving Baghdad.


RAGHAD HUSSEIN, SADDAM'S ELDEST DAUGHTER (through translator): We (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They placed us in a house in the extreme suburbs of Baghdad. And then when the situation was out of control we lost contact with my father and brothers and so on.

I saw it with my own eyes that the Iraqi army was failing and rockets were falling all over the place, sometimes about 50 meters from where we were.


PHILLIPS: Now, joining us to talk more about this, CNN analyst Ken Pollack, he's with the Brookings Institutions and the author of "The New York Times" best seller "The Threatening Storm: The Case For Evading Iraq."

Ken, good to see you.

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Thank you, Kyra. Good to see you.

PHILLIPS: Well let's talk about why now and why Jordan for Saddam's two daughters?

POLLACK: Well I think the answer to both is because they were available. There have been rumors flooding around the Middle East for the last several months Raghad and Rana were trying to get asylum somewhere.

There were rumors that they tried in Syria, there were rumors that they tried in Lebanon, there were rumors that they tried Britain and other European countries, looking desperately to get out of Iraq.

And it seems that the Jordanians were the one country that was willing to take them in, as best we can tell. PHILLIPS: Will they stay there permanently? Will they continue their life with the nine kids? How do you think Jordanians will treat them, react to them? Are their lives in any danger there?

POLLACK: I think there certainly is a security risk against them from Iraqi agents in Jordan. We don't know yet under which circumstances they left. All the information out of Baghdad in year's past was they were somewhat estranged with their father after they defected to Jordan with their then husbands back in 1995. Remember, Raghad's husband was Hussein Kamel, a man who was in charge of Saddam's weapons program. He fled to Jordan in 1995 with his brother, who was one of Saddam's bodyguards, and their two daughters. They then, in an amazing feat of bad judgment, decided to go back to Iraq, where Saddam killed the two husbands, and it's been our understanding that they had some strained relations with their father since then.

So we don't know under what circumstances they left Iraq. If Saddam is not happy with them fleeing, which seems fairly likely, if he's not happy they're in Jordan, it's possible that Iraqi intelligence agents still in Jordan might act on his orders or simply on their own decide to try to kill the two girls. So I think that's the danger they might face back in Jordan.

PHILLIPS: Ken, back when you were with the CIA were these daughters ever intelligent sources for you or others in the government? Did they ever give up intel on their dad?

POLLACK: Well, no. Saddam's inner family was extremely difficult to get at. The only time that U.S. intelligence was ever really able to talk to someone this intimate, this close to Saddam Hussein himself was when the two daughters defected with their two husbands. And you'll pardon me if my memory is a little bit cloudy, but my recollection was that U.S. intelligence certainly spoke to Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel, the two husbands, but I don't remember them ever speaking to the two daughters.

PHILLIPS: So what do you think? Will the daughters here have intelligence. Will they know about the whereabouts of their father? They had a close relationship with mom. What's your best guess?

POLLACK: My guess is that they probably don't have a whole lot that is going to be terribly useful. Certainly U.S. intelligence will want to talk to them. You never know what kind of gems they might have, what kind of nuggets they can provide U.S. intelligence.

But again, they were not part of Saddam's security apparatus. He certainly never used them to control his operations. There's no indication that they were with Saddam over the last few weeks, so there's no real sense that they know where he is or how he's he's operating. So as a result, they may be able to provide some interesting details to U.S. intelligence, but it's unlikely that they're provide a whole lot more real evidence that can be used to track him down.

PHILLIPS: You know, we just brought up a graphic of the family tree, and let's bring that up again, and we sort of pointed out the connection here with the Hussein family. Obviously, wife No. 1, whereabouts unknown. And Hala, I don't know if I'm saying that right, this is the other daughter, whereabouts unknown. Well now, we know where the two daughters today are. We know what happened to Uday and Qusay. Could this other daughter be with Saddam? What are the chances here of tracking her down, and also wife No. 1?

POLLACK: You know, it's entirely possible that Hala is with her father, but it seems unlikely. Again, Saddam does seem to be moving around with a very, very small number of people. Remember, Uday and Qusay were caught with just two other people present, and that seems very much because they want to keep down their profile. A big number of people makes it much easier for the U.S. to track them. A much smaller number of people, it's much harder to track them. So it seems unlikely that Hala would be with her father.

Likewise, we don't where Sagada (ph) is. That's the first wife. Sagada's relationship with Saddam has been strained for a very long time, basically since he took his second wife, Samira Shapanda (ph), who is another person who is out there that we have no idea where she is located. And by the way, Saddam has another son with Samira, a young man by the name of Ali, who again, is out there, and nobody knows where he is either.

PHILLIPS: Well, Ken, before we let you go, I just have to ask you this quickly. Right now, Jane Arraf is interviewing the two daughters in Amman Jordan. We're going to have that live on our air any minute now. Why is it so important? Why are we all intrigued by this? What is it we want to hear from them? And I don't know, is this a coup for U.S. military?

POLLACK: I'll start with the why it is interesting I think for most people, because in some ways, Saddam Hussein is one of the most dysfunctional families that any of us have seen. It's up there with "Dallas" and "Dynasty" in terms of dysfunctional families. Uday the son, he shot his uncle, he killed his brother-in-law. You know, they're constantly at their throats, several different wives, all of whom hate each other. You know, it is the stuff of soap operas. And I think to some extent, that's what fascinates people.

But there actually is some importance to this. An Arab tribal society, and we have to remember that Saddam is from an old school tribal family. The behavior of women reflects on the honor of the men. So the behavior of daughters reflects on the honor of their father. And these two women going off and fleeing to Jordan is a stain on Saddam's honor, and for many Iraqis, it totally will probably send the message that this is another sign that Saddam is really losing control, he really is losing his ability to keep people in line and fearful of him. He lost his two sons, the U.S. penetrated them and was able to kill the two of them, and now the two daughters have fled to Jordan. It is a sign his inner circle is breaking up.

Ken Pollack, it's always a pleasure, of course, and we thank you again for your time.

POLLACK: Anytime, Kyra, good seeing you. PHILLIPS: Likewise.


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